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Rebels Against the Raj tells the little-known story of seven people who chose to struggle for a country other than their own: foreigners to India who, from the late nineteenth century, arrived to join the freedom movement fighting for independence.
Of the seven, four were British, two American and one Irish: four men, three women. Before and after being jailed or deported, they did remarkable and pioneering work in a variety of fields, from journalism and social reform to education, organic agriculture and environmentalism.
In this episode of BIC Talks Ramachanchandra Guha and Alex Ellis discuss the stories of these remarkable people – each rebel motivated by idealism and genuine sacrifice; each connected to Gandhi, though some as acolytes while others were endlessly infuriated by his views; each understanding they would likely face prison sentences for their resistance, and likely live and die in India; each one leaving a profound impact on the region in which they worked, their legacies continuing through the institutions they founded and the generations and individuals they inspired.
Through these entwined lives, we receive deep insights into the relationship between India and the West, and India’s story as a country searching for its identity and liberty beyond British colonial rule.
Ramachandra Guha was born and raised in the Himalayan foothills. He studied in Delhi and Kolkata, and has lived for many years in Bengaluru. His many books include a pioneering environmental history, The Unquiet Woods; a landmark history of the Republic, India after Gandhi; and an authoritative biography of Mahatma Gandhi, both volumes of which were chosen by The New York Times as a Notable Book of the Year. Having previously taught at Oslo, Stanford and the London School of Economics, he is currently Distinguished University Professor at Krea University. Guha’s awards include the Leopold-Hidy Prize of the American Society of Environmental History, the Howard Milton Award of the British Society for Sports History, the Sahitya Akademi Award, and the Fukuoka Prize for contributions to Asian culture. He is the recipient of an honorary doctorate in the humanities from Yale University.
Alex Ellis is currently the British High Commissioner to India based in Delhi. He was earlier in the Cabinet Office as Deputy National Security Adviser and Director General, Department for Exiting the European Union. He has also served in Brasilia, Portugal, Spain and in the European Commission among other postings.